The shirts were off, the spoilers came fast and the “Twilight” fans lucky enough to attend a midafternoon panel on the film at San Diego’s Comic-Con couldn’t get enough. For many — those who had camped out overnight — the “New Moon” Q&A was The.Event.Of.Comic.Con.2009, as director Chris Weitz and stars Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Kristen Stewart and Ashley Greene were all in attendance.
But first, a mini-review of the Comic-Con exclusive clips from the film (Note: This is a fan-centered write-up — those not up on the “Twilight”-verse may be a little lost).
The first: A scene between Jacob and Bella just as she’s learning to ride her motorcycle. In short, it’s eye-candy central for “Twilight” fans. (This assessment is based purely on the number of ear-piercing screams that went off during two minutes of footage, of course.)
Bella is sunk and depressed but as she picks up speed, her visions of Edward admonishing her increase — read: she whizzes by multiple hallucinations of Pattinson. Yessir, they’ve really managed to get around that whole Edward-being-gone-for-most-of-the-book thing. When she crashes, Jacob removes his shirt to stop the bleeding on her head. They have a charged moment.
Score one for Team Jacob.
Oh, but Team Edward comes back in full force for the second clip — a surprising look at the climax of the film. Turns out Weitz really wanted to reward those who had camped out overnight for this because he brought never-before-seen footage of the moment when Bella rescues Edward from shirtless suicide in Italy.
It’s a sea of red hoods in the middle of Venice’s San Marco festival, with Bella pounding through the crowds toward the clock tower where she knows Edward is about to expose himself to the on-looking Volturi vampires. It’s all slow-motion intensity, and Weitz should feel nothing but relieved that even a glimpse of Pattinson removing his shirt is enough to send these soon-to-be-ticket-holding moviegoers into a frenzy. Well played, sir, well played, indeed.
Now onto the questions — the first one may very well be a panel-best. We did our best to transcribe as much of the interaction as we could.
Rob, your expressions in the first movie really lend themselves to comedy. Do you have plans to move in that direction?
Robert Pattinson: I don’t know if I’m particularly funny, I don’t know. One of my legs is shorter than the other one so it makes everything look really awkward. So I can look like an idiot, but I don’t know if I can be witty.
“Your characters are all very selfish. What part of yourselves did you use to bring that out? How are you like your characters?”
Ashley Greene: Not that hard to be selfish really.
Kristen Stewart: It’s a virtue.
AG: With Alice, she’s very optimistic and positive, I def try to be positive. I’m generally a very happy person.
Taylor Lautner: I’m more like Jacob’s pre-trans side. Before he goes wacko. I hope I’m more friendly and outgoing.
Chris Weitz to RP: I noticed you’re very cold to the touch and your skin’s like marble and you glow like diamonds in the sun.
RP: I don’t know.
Nanette, who is in love with Pattinson’s music and style, wants to know if the actor, who had two songs appear on the “Twilight” soundtrack, would ever do open-mic nights.
RP: I would but I’m too, I’m a [wussy], I guess. But no, I’d love to. I think everyone should do open mics, it’s very healthy for the show. It’s like I’m cutting a record now, if I do it, so . . .
“‘New Moon’ fan reaction videos: Are you afraid?”
CW: We could not be more pleased and tickled by them. Some of them are very intense in their reactions. And I wouldn’t want them to get them mad at me by getting anything wrong in the movie. We should do a fan reaction video to the fan reaction, because it’s incredibly amusing and aspiring in these dark and long days putting together the film. We love them.
Denise (not this writer), a huge fan of the saga and the movies, wants to know how different it is to shoot in Vancouver than Portland?
Bless her, AG, answers: Portland has more of an edge.
TL: Both places are cold and wet. It’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just not any fun not wearing any clothes there. (The fans go wild at the thought.)
“What were the big challenges making ‘New Moon'”?
CW: The wolves are going to be great. Filming in Italy was a tremendous challenge because everyone knew we were going to be there. Everywhere the cameras weren’t pointed were hundreds of fans. People applauded after every take, which is unheard of. It’s like doing theater.
But the sheer logistics of getting through all the fans to get where we had to stand by the camera — there was a moment where I had to go to the bathroom, and there was not a cafe I could go into without being mobbed. Not because I’m me, but people wanted to know if I could set up meetings with Rob.
“Taylor, what was it like filming naked? And can you, like, do a backflip for us?”
TL: It was quite cold. We did this scene where it was raining, but we needed it to rain harder, so we used rain from the wells. All I was wearing was jean shorts. And it was a long scene. 12 hours. It was really really hard, but … doing it all for you guys.
“What are you most excited for in the next films?”
AG: Excited about this whole intense fight scene we’re supposed to have.
TL: I’m excited for the height of the love triangle. The sleeping bag scene!
KS: I can’t wait to get pregnant.
RP: Being involved in the cesarean, I can’t wait.
“What was the funniest memory you have on set?”
CW: Seeing me walk on set every day pretending to be the director. I grew attached to having a stick on hand, kinda like Gandalf the wizard [from "Lord of the Rings"], under the assumption it would give me an air of authority, which it didn’t.
Deborah, an extra from the set on Italy, wants to know their favorite moment filming in Italy.
KS: Finishing! It was such a charged moment when the movie was finished. It didn’t feel right, but at the same time it felt so great. Like a sense of accomplishment.
“How’d you like working with Chris Weitz?”
KS: In the first one, everything was very impulsive and natural and fast. We didn’t have to think about anything, we just went for it. This time we had time to think. It was more cerebral. He’s one of the most compassionate, the most considerate guys I met in my life. Made it so easy, jeez.
CW: Kristen went down with a sprained ankle. No deaths, very proud of that … I will tell you, Taylor did every single stunt he could possibly get his hands on. Every stunt, except the ones the insurance company wouldn’t let him. If Jacob is doing something impressive or dangerous, that’s Taylor. And Rob just sat around looking good, really.
How have you prospered from the movie? Did playing Edward make you stronger?
RP: At the end of the day it’s just a part. As a really bad analogy, you step on a stone and it flies away and you just try not to drown afterward.
CW: The last film I made was recut with the studio and my experience was quite terrible. And this one has been terrific, dealing with Summit and the cast. They’ve said some very kind things about me, which I told them to. I now remember how much fun making a film can be.
Photo: Kristen Stewart, from left, Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson. Credit: Getty Images